Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Simmons, Jean Merilyn
From Chambers Biographical Dictionary


English actress

Born in London and educated at the Aida Foster School of Dancing, she made her film debut in Give Us the Moon (1944). She quickly rose to the forefront of young English actresses with accomplished performances as Estella in Great Expectations (1946) and Ophelia in Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948, Academy Award nomination). Developing into a fine and beautiful actress, she signed a contract with Howard Hughes in Hollywood from 1951 but found few roles worthy of her abilities. Her best film work included The Actress (1953), Elmer Gantry (1960) and The Happy Ending (1969), for which she received an Academy Award nomination. She brought distinction to a range of television work and won an Emmy for The Thorn Birds (1983). Among her rare stage appearances were Big Fish, Little Fish (1964) and A Little Night Music (1976). Later film appearances include How to Make an American Quilt (1995). She was awarded an OBE in 2003.

© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

Related Articles

Full text Article Simmons, Jean (1929)
The Penguin Biographical Dictionary of Women

Jean Simmons has appeared successfully in over 50 films but narrowly failed to become a Hollywood superstar. Born in London, she...

Full text Article Simmons, Jean Merilyn (1929- )
Chambers Film Factfinder

English, born in London. She was a model and bit-part player before making her film debut in Give Us the Moon (1944). A breathtakingly...

See more from Credo